Betz Mayer, '19

BA, International Relations, Russian Language


Though my hometown is in Texas, I have a life-long love for all things winter, cold, and snowy. However, it was my journey to UW, where I began studying the Russian language and international relations, that eventually led to my passion for the Arctic. The Arctic Circle is an incredibly dynamic and relatively uncharted international policy space. Each of the Arctic countries struggles with the balance between the detrimental impacts of climate change and the ways that climate change can help their economies. Russia and Canada, for example, both have the opportunity to access new Arctic shipping routes and tap into natural resource reserves that were previously locked under layers of ice, yet both are committed to protecting the Arctic’s delicate ecosystem, presenting a fascinating policy juxtaposition. Studying the Arctic has inspired me to take a closer look at the ways that international policy will need to adapt in order to respond to climate change’s unique challenges. My hope is that the Arctic studies minor will give me the opportunity to understand the scientific aspects of climate change, the policies that currently govern the Arctic, and the ways that these changes impact the people who live there. The Arctic Council’s inclusion of Indigenous Peoples as equal shareholders in the fate of the Arctic gives me hope that this area can be a place of unprecedented cooperation, especially between large governments and Indigenous Peoples, and between the West and Russia.